Eugenia Pedraza is a 51 year-old mother of three, who already has served more than 12 years in prison for crimes committed by three men, each of whom is already out of jail. Eugenia has applied to Governor Cuomo for clemency, in the hopes that she might be freed and the rest of her sentence commuted.
In 1999, Eugenia's husband abandoned her, their young son and her two daughters, and took the family's savings with him. Eugenia's step-father and two other men came up with and perpetrated a plan to abduct Eugenia’s sister-in-law (the husband’s sister), hoping to find the missing husband and the missing money. The sister-in-law was taken captive, threatened and mistreated, and narrowly escaped a fire that may have been set on purpose. The three captors were arrested, pled guilty and served prison terms of five or ten years.
Eugenia was arrested and pled not guilty, turning down a plea offer of three and a half years. She had known that her step-father was planning “something” – but he purposefully hid the details from her. She did not participate in holding the victim captive and was in police custody at the time of the fire.
Eugenia did not get a fair trial. The prosecution used an illegally obtained statement from Eugenia (written in English although she then spoke only Spanish), prejudicial surprise testimony from her husband (the prosecutors “forgot” to put him on the witness list), and inconsistent and unreliable testimony from the victim. Eugenia’s lawyer – later disbarred for other reasons – provided little in the way of defense. The jury convicted Eugenia of the crimes charged and, despite a sentencing report recommending probation, the courts imposed a 23-year-to-life prison sentence. Eugenia’s appeals to higher courts fell on death ears.
Eugenia asks for clemency, because her good conduct in prison merits special consideration, because of the circumstances of the case, and because her continued incarceration serves only to inhibit her further rehabilitation, to burden her three children, and to waste the resources of the State of New York.
It is impossible to imagine that another woman, arrested in connection with otherwise identical facts, would be in prison today if she spoke English, was Caucasian, or had the resources to afford capable legal representation. In the interests of fairness and common sense, Eugenia should be released.
You can see the NY1 report on this story at: http://www.ny1.com/content/top_stories/152980/imprisoned-bronx-mother-hopes-for-clemency.
For more detail on the case, see our blog at: http://clemencyforeugenia.blogspot.com/.
Time is of the essence! Governor Cuomo has not yet acted on this petition or any of the petitions submitted to him by the Executive Clemency Bureau at the end of 2011. We want to collect as many signatures as possible, as soon as possible.
Thank you for supporting Eugenia!
Dear Governor Cuomo:
I sign this petition in support of the application of Eugenia Pedraza for clemency. Ms. Pedraza is serving an absurd 23-year-to-life prison sentence for crimes committed by three men, all of whom have already finished serving their much shorter prison sentences.
Ms. Pedraza did not perpetrate the crimes for which she is being punished. She declined a plea bargain offer that carried only a three and one-half year sentence, but her trial was marred by:
* the use in evidence of a statement she signed under police coercion, which had been written in English although she could only read Spanish;
* surprise irrelevant and prejudicial testimony from her husband;
* inconsistent and unreliable testimony from the victim; and
* inadequate representation by her trial lawyer.
Ms. Pedraza has already been in jail for 12 years – more than half of her sentence – and has been a model prisoner. She is no threat to anybody and there is no purpose that can be served by keeping this 51 year-old mother of three in prison any longer. She should be returned to her children, who have been without her for much too long.
Therefore, I urge you to consider and grant Eugenia Pedraza’s application for clemency.